Make It Stop: “Why Do Dudes Keep Flaking On Me?”

Help me! I’m feeling like a ding dong about this. I met “Eric” online two weeks ago and he seemed interested in me. He messaged me first and suggested we talk on the phone, which we’ve done twice in the past week. The conversations were great. He told me how attractive he thought I was in my pictures and asked me to meet for dinner at a cool place downtown. Sounds good so far, right? Well, we agreed to meet tonight at 8 p.m. I just texted him asking if our date was still happening and he replied, “Sorry, I gotta cancel.” He didn’t suggest an alternate time to meet up—which is annoying in it’s own right—but I’m more annoyed that I had to text him to find out he was going to flake. This has happened to me THREE times in the past month. What am I doing wrong here? How do I make this flaky bullshit stop?

Everything about this situation sucks. It sucks to put yourself out there with your picture and come up with a few cute sentences about your interests. It sucks to put energy into getting to know someone. And it sucks to be blown off. I’m shaking my fist at the sky for you! I’d be mad as hell too. Not “scream into a pillow mad” but definitely “finish a pint of ice cream with a pissed off look on my face” mad.

While it’s irritating you’ve been getting the blow off, use this as an opportunity to change your approach. Some small tweaks could mean the difference between “Sorry, I gotta cancel” and “Hey Gorgeous! I’m on my way.”

There’s three variables at play here that could be the cause of your flake attacks.

The first variable we have to take into account is the culture of the sites you’re using. If you’re meeting this guys on free sites or apps, then the quality of interactions is going to be lower. The type of guy who’d want to meet a lot of women cheaply tends to be more interested in sampling the goods than settling down. Generally speaking, sites like Match.com, where people pay to meet the opposite sex, have a different culture. There, men seem more interested in finding a significant other and bouncing off the site ASAP. If the site is free, like OKCupid or Tinder, then it seems the guys don’t have as much motivation to seal the deal.

The next variable is maybe you’re putting out a vibe that’s repelling serious boyfriend candidates. On your profile, are you leading with your specific interests or your fabulous tatas? What criteria do you use to respond to men? Are you picking these studs with your heart or your head? Are you going for the guys with the steady jobs and solid educations or the guys with pics of themselves with their shirts off at the gym? Or maybe your issues have nothing to do with your profile on the dating site. Maybe the guys are Googling you and uncovering something strange. Does something funky pop up in your Google search results, like an online essay about being obsessed with Blossom’s hats or something equally nutty? Ask a friend if something in your search history is turning people off.

The third variable, assuming you aren’t willing to choose a different (i.e. paid) platform to meet men or pick different kinds of guys, is you’re going to need to lower your expectations. Online dating is rife with Flakey Frankies. Guys who carry on several conversations at the same time. Guys who have very little invested in the process, as you’re finding out. Assume they’ll cancel from the outset, that way you won’t be as disappointed.

If this all is becoming too much and you feel yourself becoming bitter about the online dating process, then maybe it’s time to take a break from these sites. Maybe the universe it telling you for some reason, your timing’s not right. There’s nothing wrong with taking a step back and putting your profile on ice until your mojo turns around.

Make It Stop is a weekly column in which Anna Goldfarb — author of “Clearly, I Didn’t Think This Through” and the blogger behind the blog, Shmitten Kitten — tells you what’s up. Want a fresh take on a stinky dilemma? Email [email protected] with the subject “Make It Stop.” She’ll make it all better, or at least make you laugh. Girl Scout’s honor.